Sunday Night Preview: Cowboys at Saints

DALLAS, NEW ORLEANS BOTH AT A CROSSROADS AS THEY MEET SUNDAY NIGHT ON NBC

The Dallas Cowboys saw last week how hard it was going to be to win with both Tony Romo and Dez Bryant out of the lineup. Brandon Weeden just isn't an NFL caliber quarterback. The defense isn't anywhere near good enough to win on its own.

The New Orleans Saints are off to an 0-3 start...and are already fully aware that they're basically a DOORMAT when Drew Brees isn't healthy. In fact, the whole Sean Payton/Drew Brees era may be on the verge of ending if their early skid continues. The NFL seems to have caught up to what's being done in the Big Easy.

That sets up a very important, if not particularly "marquee" prime time affair this week on Sunday Night. It's a "must-win" game for both teams to avert disaster!

Won-Lost Records (Strength of Schedule)
Dallas: 2-1 (beat the NY Giants and Philadelphia, lost to Atlanta)
New Orleans: 0-3 (lost to Arizona, Tampa Bay, and Carolina)

If Dallas falls to 2-2...knowing that it's 0-2 without Romo and Bryant several weeks before either can return...then their grip on the NFC East will be very lose indeed. They're lucky that it's shaping up to be a crappy division! But, somebody's going to start winning games soon. Weeden's version of the team may not be capable of beating too many upcoming opponents if they're double digits worse at home than Atlanta, and unable to beat slumping New Orleans on the same field where lowly Tampa Bay did just that.

If New Orleans falls to 0-4...stick a fork in the season...and probably the current regime. Nobody recovers from that in this league...particularly when you have to put a horrible defense on the field every week.

Yards-Per-Play
Dallas: 6.1 on offense, 5.2 on defense
New Orleans: 5.5 on offense, 6.7 on defense

That's 6.7 yards-per-play allowed on defense this season for the Saints even though Tampa Bay was one of the opponents, and another...Carolina...isn't particularly potent. Imagine what good offenses are going to do to the Saints. Dallas did have decent defensive numbers in their first two games, helped by Romo playing ball control. Weeden couldn't do that last week, and Atlanta ran roughshod over the last three quarters. The numbers above suggest Romo would have been a steal vs. Brees this week. Can Weeden control his destiny vs. such a bad Saints defense? Possible.

Turnover Differential
Dallas: -3
New Orleans: -3

Ouch...really bad news here for both...and a reminder that Romo was hurting his yardage with giveaways before he got hurt (story of his career!). Remember when Brees and Payton ruled this category during their Super Bowl run? Now the offense is more turnover prone because defenses have adjusted...and the defense doesn't scare anybody. Possibly a wash this week...but a reminder of the lack of quality in play going forward.

Market Performance
Dallas: 1-2 ATS
New Orleans: 1-2 ATS

Dallas was 1-1 ATS in the games Romo started, as they had to rally to barely beat the Giants as a decent-sized favorite. The ugly win at Philadelphia was, at least, an impressive cover as a 7-point underdog. The Saints got the money last week in Carolina in the game Brees missed. But, that was the result of a non-offensive score. It would have been a non-cover without that. Bottom line...two overrated teams by market parameters.

Current Line: New Orleans by 3.5, total of 47

This line may move a bit through the weekend as the market tries to evaluate the true health of Brees. It's easier to like him if he's close to full strength...but it's difficult to lay more than a field goal with him if his health isn't all the way back. Remember...this team lost at home to rookie quarterback Jameis Winston and Tampa Bay!

JIM HURLEY is working closely with his on-site sources to find out whatever he can about Brees. You HAVE to know his likely performance or you can't pick this game! If those sources find meaningful information...then Cowboys/Saints will show up on the NETWORK slate. 

You can purchase the final word for all the Sunday action on game day right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453 before the early games begin...or during normal business hours Monday through Friday. Be sure to ask about combination rates that also include postseason baseball through the World Series.

Back with you tomorrow to preview the Detroit/Seattle matchup on ESPN. That's another game matching an 0-3 opponent with a 1-2 team that doesn't have much margin for error. Great drama...but these Sunday and Monday prime time games this week weren't what the networks were expecting! Oh look...our NOTEBOOK schedule shows we have an injured quarterback coming up Thursday too...

Monday: NFL TV Preview...Detroit at Seattle
Midweek: NFL TV Preview...Indianapolis at Houston
Friday-Saturday: College Football TV Preview...to be determined 
Sunday: NFL TV Preview...San Francisco at the NY Giants

Our key indicator stats are an important start point...then you adjust for the impact of injuries (whether it's Ben Roethlisberger, Tony Romo, Drew Brees, or Andrew Luck). If you can't do that on your own (and few can!), then hook up with PROVEN WINNER JIM HURLEY to make sure you GET THE MONEY!

20
Aug

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